Advocacy is becoming a useful marketing tool and more organisations are starting to run an advocate program. New online tools are emerging to get the best out of this technique; they can really turn your advocacy marketing into a strategy that pays. But advocacy is not just a powerful marketing tool; it’s also a great platform to launch market research.
What is Advocate Marketing
In a nutshell, advocate marketing describes running an advocate program – something that encourages and/ or rewards people for participating in marketing your product. It’s similar to the web concept of affiliate marketing.
There are three types of advocate:
- Paid advocates are groups you pay money to to spread information. This can take the form of blogs, podcast sponsorship and similar appropriate channels.
- Owned advocates are groups of people with a stake in the success of your product. This could be employees, suppliers, business partners etc.
- The final type of advocate is the earned advocate. These are essentially satisfied people and organisations that want to engage with your brand.
For advocate marketing to be truly effective, earned advocates need to be signed up as quickly as possible and encouraged to continually engage with your organisation.
How Can Advocate Marketing Help Market Research
As market researchers, the group we are most interested in is the earned advocates. These represent people with a unique perspective on our company and our product. Earned advocates have already had a good experience with our company and in all likelihood are existing customers.
More importantly, they are signed up to an advocate program – that means they are keen to engage with the business in a constructive manner and guide future decision making. This instantly makes them a group of people to perform market research on.
What’s more, engaging our advocates in market research will benefit the advocate program by making them feel less like customers and more like partners.
What Type of Insights Can Be Gleaned from Advocates
As our earned advocates probably have a positive view of our products and services, they represent a research group which have a greater depth of knowledge about our business than a lay person. This makes them perfect for asking questions about specific features, ideas and tools in our product.
Our advocates are also groups of people with different levels of experience with our products and services. Fresh advocates will be able to represent the people with good first impressions of the product and can tell us what we are doing right when it comes to attracting new customers.
Long term advocates will be able tell us what we need to improve our product and guide how we develop it further.
Completing the Cycle
Our advocates can be encouraged to pass back information regarding responses to our marketing strategies which they participate in. That helps us close the feedback loop.
Granted, advocate programs are not for all organisations, but if the marketing team in your business run one, you should try and see how your market research can fit in. If not, you should at least find out why; it could be a powerful marketing and market research tool your business is missing out on.